We left quite a bit later than we had planned, so we skipped St. Louis and headed straight to Memphis. We stopped in Effingham, IL to get dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant there called Taqueria Don Pedro, and the food was very good and the horchata was excellent!!
Watched the 11:00am Duck Parade at Peabody. The ducks were so fun to watch playing and splashing around in the fountain! Afterwards we walked up to the rooftop to see the duck palace and the views over Memphis.
Took a 1:00 tour at Sun Studio where music legends like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and BB King have recorded. The tour was informative and it was fun to listen to different selections of music that was recorded there. We also got to recreate the iconic photo of Elvis with the actual microphone that he used! Very cool!
We had to revisit One and Only BBQ for lunch, since it was so good last time we were in Memphis. We got the half rack of ribs + one meat (smoked wings) and 2 sides (baked beans and Mac & cheese) and of course their fabulous banana pudding. Yum!!
The Crystal shrine grotto was really neat! We didn’t really know what to expect, but the whole grotto is studded with crystals and geodes and tells the story of Christ’s life in a very unique way. The cemetery grounds are beautiful and very well kept too!
This little Mexican ice cream place was fantastic! We got a small horchata (really good) and Brian had a small cone (the cones were actually huge!) with “Mexican cake” and “Germany” ice cream, and I had a small cone with “pistachio” and “ferrero” ice cream 🍦🍦
We got up, had breakfast at the hotel, and got ready to leave. We hit the road around 10:00. We booked our stay at the Jefferson Inn and Suites while we were driving and set our destination for the hotel. Stopped off to get gas and some supplies at Walmart before finishing the drive!
We were really lucky to nab a table at Jacques Imo’s! The complimentary cornbread was delicious, Brian had a Purple Haze beer and I had a watermelon mojito. Dinner was Boudin balls for our appetizer (I think Boudin sausage is our new obsession) seafood etouffe with asparagus and sweet yams for our main, and coconut bread pudding (that our waiter JJ described as “slap ya mama” good 😂) for dessert - and none of it disappointed. I was so full I felt like I could pop!
Afterwards we went back to the hotel and got ready for bed. It was a long day of driving and we were tired from the trip and all the eating we did at Jacques Imo’s.
After a good night’s sleep, we got up and headed out to breakfast at Surrey’s. Brian had corned beef hash with Boudin, and I had a biscuit sandwich with Boudin sausage. It was all delicious!
After breakfast, we drove into the French quarter and started our first proper wander. We ended up strolling through the open air market and popped into some shops down the road. I had to try my first praline (a pure sugar and butter candy in the shape of a cookie with pecans inside) so we grabbed a few at the souther candy makers shop and gave them a try. There are extremely sweet, but of course I love anything with sugar! The chocolate ones were my favorite ❤️
We continued walking, and stopped at Cafe Du Monde (which had a line literally wrapping around the block) so instead of waiting like the rest of the plebes, we opted to just sit in the cafe for a few moments and take in the scenery. I’m not a big believer in somewhere having the ‘best beignet’ - I mean, it’s literally fried dough covered in powdered sugar. That, to me, is not worth wasting an hour in line for. We continued down the road and ended up at Jackson Square. We were surprised (and glad) to see the statue of Andrew Jackson still in tact. We walked around the square, read the signage with the history of the square, and continued on to the cathedral opposite.
The St. Louis Cathedral is beautiful! And the history is fascinating as well. We met a man named Phil that worked at the church answering questions and giving general information about the church. We ended up talking to him for about 45 minutes! He was a wealth of knowledge about everything to do with the cathedral as well as the local history.
Brian said that I had to see one of the oldest bars in the States. Lafitte’s has a very Harry Potter feel to it. Or like stepping into any movie you’ve ever seen with a scene in an old ale house - dimly lit with low ceilings and stone floors and walls with exposed wood beams in the ceiling. It was very cool to get to touch a piece of history
Although we couldn’t eat at Café Amelie, we sat in the beautiful garden right outside it. The gardenia trees were in full bloom, and the fountain was gently gurgling in the background. It felt like stepping out of the city for a few moments and getting a refreshing drink of water.
Finally...after much adieux, beignets!! The was a recommendation from our server at Jacques Imo’s and it didn’t disappoint. 3 large piping hot beignets were just what the doctor ordered after a lot of walking.
Our pre-dinner, dinner lol. A local recommended this place and said that they had the absolute best fried chicken ever! Well, it was just ok. We got a sampler plate with rabbit and sausage jambalaya, a (tiny) piece of chicken, shrimp creole, seafood gumbo, red beans and rice. I wouldn’t say anything was particularly amazing, but nothing was terrible either.
This was my first time having a peel and eat crawfish boil! And it was tasty! It’s a bit frustrating for a newbie because I’m slow and it’s a lot of work for a tiny piece of meat, but I persevered. We also had fried green tomatoes and a big Caesar salad on the side.
Last, but not least, dessert! A couple spaces down from Bevi seafood is Angelo Brocato - so of course we had to get some gelato and a couple baked goods! I had Baci gelato and Brian had the Praline. Both were very good! We also got something called a Greek top (pastry filled with almond paste, but it wasn’t as almond-y as we’d hoped and also kind of bland) but the chocolate dipped almond crescent was 5 stars! Chewy, very almond-y with the perfect amount of crunch. Yum!
I had high hopes for this coffee shop because it’s in an old bank and had really good reviews. After receiving semi-snotty service and getting a watery and subpar iced chai and a bagel sandwich, we finished our snack and left a bit disheartened.
Bayou swamp walk! This was so beautiful! The water was so high because of all the recent rain that it was all the way up to the boardwalk. We heard tons of bullfrogs, tree frogs and birds calling to each other. We also saw a blue heron, huge snapping turtle and alligator (at a distance). We also met a fellow traveler named Bill who used to work for the national park service. He gave us tons of ideas for things to do as well as a place to go eat for lunch. He was an absolute wealth of information!
This was the restaurant that Bill directed us to. We waited in line for about 20 minutes (it was a looooong line) and ordered boiled crawfish, potatoes and corn on the cob, andouille sausage, crawfish boudin, a shrimp po’boy, and an ‘ooey gooey’ cake. Everything was absolutely delicious! We both said this was one of the best simple meals we had!
Later on, we ended up back at the French market for another look around. And this time I got a crepe from the stand I had been eyeing each time we had walked through. Simple and tasty, there’s nothing like a fresh hot crepe smothered in Nutella 🤤 We kept walking around and took the next photo in front of a quintessential New Orleans building.
This was another recommendation by Bill! We got lucky that we showed up before it got busy and nabbed a table outside. The weather was absolutely perfect. I ordered a hurricane and Brian ordered a Sazerac. I had forgotten how delicious hurricanes are! I immediately looked up a recipe online and vowed to make one when I get home. The band inside was playing some great jazz and we just sat, sipping our drinks and enjoying the night together. A lovely last night in NOLA.
La Boulangerie is rated 4.8 stars on Google so of course we had to check it out. We got 2 almond croissants and a cinnamon bun. Needless to say, the bakery lived up to its reputation!
We decided to get one last proper New Orleans breakfast in us before getting back on the road. Brian had shrimp and grits and I got the ‘Southern Breakfast’ which was two eggs, bacon, grits, and a biscuit.
Our final stop before leaving New Orleans was the St. Louis Cemetery. There are some really really old graves there, and a lot of interesting headstones. It was cool just walking around and learning about a little more of the history of the city.
On the drive to Pensacola we went through a tunnel that went under the water. At the point in the photo, you can see how far down we were going!
We arrived in Pensacola late in the afternoon, checked into our Airbnb, and then asked our host if he had any good suggestions for a fish dinner. He suggested Nick’s Boathouse, so that’s where we went! We split fried pickles for an appetizer and a blackened grouper plate that was very tasty, but also very expensive. The food was good, but not great, so we were a little bummed after leaving the southern food mecca of NOLA.
We tried to see the sunset after dinner, but google maps was trying to take us to a beach that we found out was actually on the airbase. After a quick encounter with the security guard, we turned around and headed back to the Airbnb. We were able to see a little bit of the sunset while crossing the bridge back to our room.
Beach day! We wanted to go to Pensacola Beach, but the bridge was out 😕. We found out that Hurricane Sally wrecked all the barges that were for the new bridge, so they had to start all over. The ferry was also not running, so if we wanted to drive to the beach it would’ve taken us well over an hour. We asked our host Sam what other beaches we could go to and he suggested perdido key. It was an absolutely perfect day, so we got everything together and headed out. We lathered up with 50spf and spent the majority of the day swimming, reading, and walking the beach. It was so nice having a whole day just to relax and not have anything planned. However, despite all that 50spf, we still managed to burn. Luckily not too terribly, but it was annoying nonetheless.
After the beach, we stopped back at the Airbnb to freshen up and decide where we wanted to eat. We landed on the Oar House and headed over. There was a half hour wait, but the outdoor bar had a few stools available and we partook of the great happy hour specials. 2 large margaritas each later, we were pleasantly buzzed when our table became available. We we sat on the outside deck and ordered fried alligator bites for our appetizer and then split another blackened grouper plate that came with hush puppies, grits, rice, cole slaw, and broccoli. It also came with a side of citrus buerre blanc (that was delish) and we ordered a side of crawfish etouffe. Everything was great...except for the grouper. It was so bad that we asked for a new piece. Our server was super nice and said she had no probably getting us a new piece but it would take about 20-30 minutes. We said forget it. But then she came back saying that the manager wanted to make it right and that he could have the new piece right out. We said ok sure, we’d love a new piece! We got the new piece and it was just as bad as the first. The manager came over and apologized profusely and said that they had been having problems with this batch of fish for some reason. He said he would comp the grouper and told us each to pick out a dessert. So we each got the brownie sundae, and then felt like we were going to explode after all that food lol!
On our drive from Pensacola to Louisville, we stopped to get gas in Montgomery. Brian saw a sign that said ‘First White House of the Confederacy’ with an arrow. We decided it would be a good place to get out and stretch our legs, so we drove the short way to the house. We learned SO MUCH in the 45 minutes that we were there. One of the employees (Nathan) was so incredibly knowledgeable and told us all sorts of stories and historical facts about the house and the people that had lived there. All of the clothing and furniture are so well preserved and it was really interesting to see and learn all about it.